U.N. urged to Act on Abuses Against Muslims in Sri Lanka

un      In an appeal to the UN Special Rapporteur on Religious Freedom, Mr. Heiner Bielefelt,  Visuvanathan Rudrakumaran, urged the UN Rapporteur to visit Sri Lanka to investigate abuses against Muslims, including attacks on Mosques by groups led by Buddhist monks.

“Abuses against Muslims include protest against Halal food, Muslim dress, admission to higher education, even attacks on Muslim businesses and Mosques” said  Rudrakumaran. “Moreover, no one was arrested or charged for these abuses.”

“The Government of Sri Lanka has failed to protect religions other than the State religion Buddhism and abuses against Muslims have increased dramatically in recent times” he said. “Instead of protecting Muslims, Sri Lankan Government’s senior leaders, attend events by groups that lead these attacks on Muslims.” 

“Buddhist Monks are very powerful in Sri Lanka. A Buddhist Monk shot and killed a Prime Minister in 1958 for having dialogue with Tamils. Buddhist Monks also have a political party called Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU), which is part of the Government. One of their representatives is an influential Cabinet Minister,” said Rudrakumaran. “There are also other groups like Bodu Bala Sena (Buddhist Power Force) which are active in anti-Muslim activities.”

Some of the anti-Muslim campaigns include:

1) Anti- Halal food: There were series of demonstrations, led by Buddhist monks, against Halal certification of food. These anti-Halal demonstrators shout anti-Muslim and anti-Islamic slogans. Due to intense pressure, Halal certification was abolished and this announcement was greeted by fire crackers being lit close to Muslim owned businesses.

2) Attack on Mosques: On April 20th, 2012, in a town called Dambulla, a violent a mob of 2,000 led by high ranking Buddhist monks stormed and vandalized a 60 year old mosque during Friday prayer. The Police stood by idly and allowed the attack on the Mosque. To date, no one has been arrested or brought any criminal action against attackers. Later, the Prime Minister’s office released a statement ordering closure of the Mosque. Earlier, in 2011, an Islamic Sufi shrine was destroyed by a mob led by Buddhist monks in a town called Anurathapura. Attacks on Mosques continue in different parts of Sri Lanka.

3) Campaign against Muslim dress: There is a campaign led by Buddhist monks, to stop Muslim women wear Muslim dress. A major rally is being organized in a town called Kandy on March 17th, to increase the pressure to force Muslim women from wearing Muslim dress. Muslim women students were also threatened and intimidated for wearing Muslim dress.

4) Rallies against Muslim owned businesses: There were several rallies protesting outside Muslim owned businesses. Demonstrators shout anti-Muslim and anti-Islamic slogans and carry placards depicting Allah as a pig and burning effigies marked Allah.

5) Protest against Muslim admissions to higher education: Recently there were demonstrations against Sri Lanka Law College for admitting large number of Muslim students. As a result, the admissions were put on hold.

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